Driven by Values

A women-owned and managed law firm expanding disability rights throughout California.

Meet Our Team

Celia McGuinness

Founder and Principal

     Celia McGuinness is a renowned disability rights trial lawyer. With more than 30 federal and State trials under her belt, as well as multiple arguments before the Ninth Circuit and California Courts of Appeals, she is a committed advocate ready to pursue her clients’ interests in any venue.

     Celia has expanded the law of disability access with published opinions including Tamara v. El Camino Hospital, the first case in the nation to rule that the ADA prohibits excluding service dogs from a locked psychiatric unit and C.L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc., the first case in the nation to rule that the ADA prohibits imposing certification requirements on service dogs.

     She has been a visiting clinical professor at the University of San Francisco Law School as well as an adjunct professor of Moot Court and Legal Writing at Hastings College of the Law. She has published scholarly and opinion articles and is a frequent speaker on disability rights issues.

     Celia was appointed to three terms on the California Commission on Disability Access by Governor Jerry Brown. CCDA’s mission is to promote disability access in California through communication and collaboration with the disability and business communities and government. She isa member of the Disability Rights Bar Association as well as a sustaining member and past Board Member of the Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association.

Deborah Gettleman

Senior Associate

     Deborah Gettleman is an accomplished civil rights litigator with an expertise in fair housing. Before joining Celia at Derby, McGuinness & Goldsmith and now the McGuinness Law Group, Deborah worked at Disability Rights California, a renowned disability rights advocacy and litigation nonprofit.  As a Supervising Attorney in the Litigation Unit, Deborah represented people with disabilities in state and federal lawsuits to enforce and expand their rights to equality under the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Fair Housing Laws. Deborah also successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court to review Reilly v. Marin Hous. Auth., 23 Cal.App.5th 425 (2018), which was ultimately overturned, impacting the way rent is calculated for thousands of Californians living in federally-subsidized housing who care for family members with developmental disabilities.

     Prior to Disability Rights California, Deborah worked at Legal Services of Northern California representing tenants in housing litigation. Working on behalf of hundreds of struggling Californians during the foreclosure crisis, solidified her commitment to fighting for the rights of all people to have access to safe and equal housing. During her time at Legal Services, she tried dozens of cases in Superior Court and in administrative hearings.

     At Derby, McGuinness & Goldsmith, Deborah helped expand the housing discrimination practice, while solidifying her skills litigating all types of ADA cases.

     Deborah frequently presents at conferences, schools, to business entities and tenant advocacy organizations about disability rights and fair housing laws. She served on a coalition of housing and disability rights attorneys which provided comments to the Fair Employment and Housing Council regarding proposed changes to fair housing regulations.

     Deborah is a graduate of the UC Davis School of Law. During law school she was an extern for the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton, U.S.D.C., Eastern District of California, and a clerk in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Upon graduation, she earned the MLK Public Service Award, given annually to honor the student who best exemplifies Dr. King’s vision and commitment to public service.

Shalishah Patrick


     Shalishah Patrick is a seasoned litigation paralegal. She has been working alongside Celia and Deborah since 2019 to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities, both at McGuinness Law Group and previously at Derby, McGuinness & Goldsmith, LLP.

     A Hoosier native, Shalishah earned her Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. While working on her bachelor's degree, Shalishah volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”), giving a voice to children who are under the care of the court system as a result of abuse and neglect. After relocating to California, Shalishah worked for the Solano County Alternate Public Defenders’ Office as a legal secretary and McConville Law Office as a legal assistant.

     Shalishah has years of experience advocating on behalf of family members with Autism. She has a passion for advocating for the removal of barriers that are disabling to members of our community.

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